My Friend Discipline

Discipline is my friend. I really mean that. My relationship with Discipline has improved somewhat in the last few years, ever since I sat her down and told her what was the what.

For a while, I was in rebellion against discipline. If she suggested something that I should do (for instance that I should eat nutritious food and also exercise and also write daily) I was like “Oh hell, no.” I was like, “I am going to sleep in, and then I’m going to make me some pancakes. And then, I’m going to take a nap.”

Which is actually fine some of the time. I am a big proponent of naps, actually. However, when there are dreams and goals that make my heart absolutely SING with a sense of joyful possibility but that require a lot of hard work en route to completion, naps and pancakes can morph into a means of escape. And this is where enlisting the help of Discipline makes all the difference.

In his book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield makes the case that so-called “Resistance” is what makes writing—and really any creative pursuit—so very difficult. Pressfield offers one means of working through Resistance, which is to “do your work.” Basically, he writes that, in the face of Resistance in any of its multiplicity of forms—the urge to procrastinate, the urge to overeat, the urge to spend money on things you can’t afford, the urge to blame others or play the victim and so on—you just have to do your work. You have to sit down at your desk, and you have to do your work. Period.

Now, it is my opinion that Pressfield gets a little heavy in his book, and that the battle metaphors miss some of the nuance of the creative process. Still, in the spirit of The War of Art, I am enlisting the help of Discipline. Because, even though Discipline can be a terrible taskmaster, she can also be a trustworthy and loyal friend. She’s the friend who prods you after you’ve hit the snooze button three times, and says to you:

“Honey, let’s go! Let’s put on your slippers, make a little coffee, and get down to business!”

 

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